by ehistoryadmin on October 20, 2016

Irish Press 3 June 1946

Tribute to Boer War Veteran

Last surviving officer of the Irish Brigade which fought for the Boers in the Boer War, 1899-1902, Comdt. Tom Byrne, Captain of the Guard, Leinster House, was presented with his portrait in oils and made president of the 1st Batt., Dublin Brigade, Old I.R.A., at a function in the Gresham Hotel, Dublin, on Saturday night. His wife, who was a member of the Cumann na mBan, was presented with a bouquet of carnations by Mrs. E. O’Connell, who served with her in the same company during the War of Independence.

About 500 comrades of the 1st Battalion and their friends, as well as Mr. Sean O’Sullivan R.H.A., who painted the portrait, attended.

Mr. Seamus O’Braonain, Secretary of the presentation committee, said Tom Byrne was born in Carrickmacross. While working in South Africa as a miner he went around the mines with another Irishman, R. MacDonagh, and recruited about 120 Irishmen to fight against the British. They carried a small green flag at the head of the brigade, and in their first engagement against the Dublin Fusiliers captured 150 them. Reinforcement’s for the Brigade began to arrive. Twelve volunteers went from Ireland 60 arrived from America. The Brigade was engaged at Ladysmith and their casualties were three killed and ten wounded.

Comdt. Byrne expressed appreciation at the presentation. It was, he said, 50 years since he went to South Africa. After the Boer War he went to America and returned to Ireland in1914. He joined the 1st Batt., I.R.A., and fought in 1916. He was Commandant of the Battalion on the reorganisation after the Rising.

A letter regretting her inability to attend was read from Madame Gonne McBride, whose husband, Major McBride, executed in 1916, took a prominent part on the side of the Boers. A souvenir programme autographed by Comdt. Byrne, bearing the colours of Ireland and of the old Boer Republicans, was presented to each of the guests.

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